Early years and development
The magazine was published under different names and formats throughout its history. Originally titled The Railroad Man's Magazine, it was the first specialized pulp magazine with stories and articles about railroads. Fictionalized stories of working on the railroad became the cornerstone of the new magazine, along with profiles of current and historic railroad operations around the country. As a boy, the author H.P. Lovecraft is known to have read the entire run of the magazine, from cover to cover. In 1919, it merged with Argosy which became Argosy and Railroad Man's Magazine for a brief period before reverting to Argosy, thus killing Railroad Man's Magazine. In 1925, magazine founder Frank Munsey had died, leaving a $25 million gift to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In 1929, when freelance author William Edward Hayes announced he was bringing out a new railroad-oriented pulp, the Munsey Company recruited him to edit a revival of Railroad Man's Magazine. Upon the abrupt departure of the editor in chief in 1930, Freeman H. Hubbard took over the post, yet was uncredited on the masthead for many years. In 1932, the title was simplified to Railroad Stories, then changed to Railroad Magazine in 1937. Through the 1930s, the magazine helped grow the organized railfan movement by encouraging communication between enthusiasts, organizing special "fan trip" excursions with the railroads, and reporting on the activities of various clubs and museums around the country.